David Melin, Leon Ellman and Laurie Plesa’s multiple stakes winner Mr. Jordan is ‘50-50’ to run in Saturday’s $250,000 Xpressbet Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash (G3), trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. said Friday.
The 26th running of the six-furlong De Francis for 3-year-olds and up at six furlongs highlights a spectacular 12-race Fall Festival of Racing program that features seven stakes, six over Laurel’s world-class turf course, worth $900,000 in purses.
Plesa is also considering the $150,000 PA Derby Champion Stakes Sept. 23 at Parx, a race where the 5-year-old Kantharos gelding finished third, beaten a neck, last year. He drew Post 2 and is listed at 12-1 on the morning line for the De Francis, which attracted a field of seven topped by 7-5 program favorite Whitmore.
“I’d say it’s 50-50 right now,” Plesa said. “He’s training really good. I’ve always had it in my mind that seven-eighths is his best distance, or even a mile. [The De Francis] is just a little bit shorter than I would have liked to have seen.
“The race at Parx is a mile and a sixteenth, and he just got beat in it last year, so it’s just a little bit longer than maybe I want to run in,” he added. “I’m not sure which way to go.”
Mr. Jordan is exiting the 1 1/8-mile Philip H. Iselin (G3) Aug. 26 at Monmouth Park, where he dug in down the lane after stalking the pace into the stretch before being passed late for second by less than a length. Prior to that he was a five-length winner of a Parx allowance going seven furlongs July 18.
“His last race was a little bit longer than he likes. It was a mile and an eighth and he’s never won going a mile and an eighth. It was just a little bit out of wheelhouse,” Plesa said. “Needless to say his race before that was a big race, even though it was an allowance race. He ran the way he can run.”
Hall of Famer Edgar Prado is named to ride Mr. Jordan at 118 pounds, four fewer than topweight Whitmore. He is one of four graded winners in the field, having captured the 2015 Pegasus (G3) at Monmouth in his graded debut.
“If there wasn’t another race that I had originally had circled, it would be a no-brainer [to run],” Plesa said. “I just have to decide what’s best.”
Karamanos Replaces Injured Carrasco on Chublicious for De Francis
Trainer Claudio Gonzalez has named Horacio Karamanos to ride David Gruskos’ multiple stakes winner Chublicious in the De Francis replacing Victor Carrasco, who was injured in a spill Thursday at Delaware Park.
Carrasco had ridden Chublicious, the New Jersey-bred champion sprinter and older male of 2016, three times last fall and winter including a third in the Dave’s Friend and a second in the Fire Plug, both at Laurel Park.
Tom Stift, Carrasco’s agent, reported the 2013 Eclipse Award-winning apprentice broke the fibula and tibia in his right leg in a five-horse pileup that began when Carrasco’s mount, Really, slipped and fell on the turf course while on the lead in the one-mile claiming event. He was scheduled to have surgery Friday afternoon.
Carrasco, 25, led Laurel’s summer meet standings with 36 wins after returning from a shoulder injury in May, and was 2-for-20 during the first three days of the current year-ending fall stand.
He was replaced in all 11 races on Friday’s program and had mounts in eight of 12 races Saturday, five of them in stakes. Jomar Torres, also represented by Stift, was named in the $100,000 Sensible Lady Turf Dash on Sweet On Smokey, the fourth also-eligible in the six-furlong turf sprint.
Changes were pending on Carrasco’s other mounts, including Class and Cash in the $100,000 Laurel Dash, Gianna’s Dream in the $150,000 All Along, and Pizmo Time in the $100,000 Laurel Turf Cup.
Also hurt in Thursday’s spill was jockey Jose Ferrer. His agent, Steve Worsley, reported the 53-year-old winner of nearly 4,200 races fractured several ribs and two vertebrae and had a collapsed lung. Ferrer was replaced on Snowday in the Laurel Dash and was also scheduled to ride Martini Glass in the All Along.
Gaffalione Road Show Makes Stop at Laurel Saturday
Rising star Tyler Gaffalione, the South Florida-based jockey who has ridden in major stakes throughout the East Coast and Midwest during the spring and summer, will visit Laurel Park Saturday to ride in six of the seven stakes on Fall Festival of Racing card.
The 22-year-old jockey, who currently is leading the 2017 national jockey standings with 224 victories, has been named to ride multiple graded-stakes winner Awesome Banner in the De Francis Dash. The Jacks or Better Farm homebred is listed at 7-2 on the morning line.
Awesome Banner is coming off a second-place finish in the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap (G1) at Saratoga July 29.
Gaffalione’s busy afternoon will also include mounts aboard Majestic Dunhill (3-1) in the $100,000 Laurel Futurity, Mantoulin (5-2) in the Laurel Turf Cup, Juno (4-1) in the All Along, Dream Mover (6-1) in the Laurel Dash, and Paquita Coqueta (20-1) in the Sensible Lady Turf Dash.
The 2015 Eclipse Award winner as the nation’s outstanding apprentice will venture to Presque Isle Downs Sunday for stakes engagements aboard multiple-stakes winner War Correspondent (9-5) in the $200,000 Presque Isle Mile and Dixie Serendade (4-1) in the $100,000 Mrs. Henry Paxson Memorial.
Despite his frequent jaunts out of town, Gaffalione has been able to maintain a 10-win advantage over Edgard Zayas, 64-54, during the Summer Meet at Gulfstream, where he captured his fourth riding title during the Spring Meet.
Gaffalione, who is represented by agent Matt Muzikar, rode in his first Kentucky Derby this year, finishing a troubled 14thaboard the Todd Pletcher-trained Patch, whom he had ridden to a runner-up finish in the Louisiana Derby (G2) at Fair Grounds.
Fall Festival of Racing an Exciting Time for Laurel Park and Bettors
Saturday’s Fall Festival of Racing, featuring the $250,000 De Francis Memorial Dash (G3) and six other stakes, is just the start of what will be a thrilling several months of racing in Maryland.
“This is an exciting time in Maryland racing,” said Maryland Jockey Club President and General Manager Sal Sinatra. “Bettors have been pleased with the renovations to our building and horsemen throughout the Northeast have supported our racing program and welcomed the new barns and renovations to the backside. Our turf course, one of the finest in the world, continues to draw full and quality fields.
“We welcome the opportunity these next few months to show off our building and our racing and stakes program.”
On Saturday, Sept. 30, newly-renovated Laurel Park will play host to eight stakes races on the turf, including three graded – the $200,000 Baltimore-Washington International Turf Cup (G2), $200,000 Commonwealth Derby (G3) and $150,000 Commonwealth Oaks (G3).
Three weeks later Laurel will once again be home of the popular Jim McKay Maryland Million.
Laurel will host Maryland’s biggest Breeders’ Cup party Nov. 3-4 and will follow that up Saturday, Nov. 11 with a race program highlighted by six stakes - including the $100,000 Safely Kept and $100,000 City of Laurel – as well as a tribute to late Mid-Atlantic legend Ben’s Cat.
On Saturday, Nov. 18, the Brew and Bourbon Classic returns to Laurel for a fun-filled day of beer tasting, bourbon sipping and Thoroughbred racing.
Source: Maryland Jockey Club